Since he was first injured in last January’s NFC playoff game at Washington, Seattle defensive end Chris Clemons has not had a firm timeline for his recovery.
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There’s still no determination on when he’ll return to play in a game. But the Seahawks are about to see him on the field for the first time in almost eight months.
Clemons is expected to be on the field practicing for the Seahawks on Wednesday as they begin preparations for the season opener at Carolina, Seattle coach Pete Carroll said on Monday.
Clemons won’t play against the Panthers, but the return to practice validates the Seahawks decision to keep him on the 53-man roster and that his return to game action could be coming sooner than later.
”He’s had a great preparation to get back. It will be light on Wednesday but he has really been busting it,” Carroll said. ”We’ll bring him along and we’re going to take our time. What we’ve been telling you hasn’t changed.
”We’re going to take our time and make sure he is ready to go. He will not be in consideration for this weekend and we’re really excited that he’s back out. We’ll see how it goes.”
Clemons suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the same game – on the same field – that Washington’s Robert Griffin III went down with his knee injury.
He’s been Seattle’s sack leader each of the past three seasons and the one constant in a pass rush that has struggled at times.
Seattle tried to address the defensive line and pass rush during the offseason via free agency and the draft, but that unit is the biggest question entering the opener.
Defensive tackles Brandon Mebane (groin) and Tony McDaniel (groin) – the prospective starters – are expected back at practice Wednesday after each were slowed at the end of training camp. The return of rookie defensive tackle Jordan Hill is still uncertain as he recovers from a biceps strain.
Then there is defensive end Cliff Avril, the headliner in Seattle’s free agent signings. Avril has been bothered by a hamstring injury throughout training camp, but ran on Monday.
”I’m anxious to see what happens later in the week. I watched those guys work out today and he was moving better than I would have thought,” Carroll said.
”We’ll see what happens, see how he takes to this workout today, get another day off and see what happens. I don’t know what that tells us, but it is good news.”
Also expected back on Wednesday are two players injured in Seattle’s preseason finale against Oakland: wide receiver Stephen Williams and offensive tackle Michael Bowie.
Williams suffered a concussion, but has been cleared. Bowie had a shoulder injury that initially was feared as being serious, but turned out to be minor.
Monday was also the first time for Carroll to address some of Seattle’s roster moves made to get to the 53-man limit.
Among the most surprising was the decision to cut veteran fullback Michael Robinson, who was set to make $2.5 million this season and had missed most of the final two weeks of training camp with an illness. Seattle will move forward with Derrick Coleman as their fullback in formations that need the position.
”We had a lot of tough decisions and Mike was one of them. Mike had been with us for a long time but all these guys that left hurt us in a sense because they had all bought in and given us everything they had,” Carroll said. ”Mike was a very instrumental guy on this football team as we were coming along, so they’re all tough decisions.”
Another surprising move was the release of veteran defensive back Antoine Winfield, followed by his decision to retire.
Winfield lost out to Walter Thurmond to be the Seahawks’ fifth defensive back. Thurmond has also been used as a returner on special teams and is finally healthy after being injured most of his young career.
”Really just being able to be healthy is the biggest thing for me and probably for the coaching staff,” Thurmond said. ”I expected more out of myself this training camp and there is always room to improve. It’s always another day to get better.”